My relationship and approach to the running world is very recent. I never stood out for being someone who had a desire to run, in fact I failed physical ed. in school for not reaching the minimum distance I had to run in 12 minutes. This last year the scenario changed. Driven by a sedentary lifestyle of months locked in quarantine, my motivation was simple: I wanted to feel better and I knew that I would not achieve it if I sat all day in front of a computer.
My first race was on November 1, 2020, I ran 3 kilometers in 24 minutes (the last one took me 9) and I remember that I felt like dying. Little did I know then that 110 days later I would be running my first half marathon in just over two hours.
With entrepreneurship, the scenario is different. Twelve years ago I co-founded The App Master, a software factory where we have ventured into more than 250 custom software projects. We’ve worked with companies of different industries, different sizes and in different parts of the world. When in 2009 I had an iPhone 3G in my hand for the first time I immediately knew that soon we would all walk around with a computer in our pockets. Our vision was to learn to exploit all the possibilities that that new world would bring.
However, I considered myself an entrepreneur long before then. In all of my previous jobs I loved to challenge the status quo of things. I was always given space to re think how things could be improved (because everything, absolutely everything has always room for improvement). I changed methodologies, implemented processes and was even in charge to build the International Export department in Aguas Danone Spain.
I heard at an Endeavor conference that those people who are entrepreneurs within companies are called “intrapreneurs.” and I guess I was one of those. I do not know which is the official definition of what it means to be an “entrepreneur” but I am sure it is definitely not “being the owner of a start up.”
Over the last few months, on my daily running outings, I found myself reflecting on how there are many similarities between what it is to be a “runner” and what it is to be an “entrepreneur.” Many times we question why we do what we do and many times we need to re-focus on what we want to achieve. These are the first six conclusions that I wanted to share here and invite you to contribute with new ones:
1.- The important thing is to keep moving
There are races that you run in 10 seconds, others in hours and others that take a lifetime. The important thing is not how fast we arrive to the goal but how we do it. There will always be moments where we will be tired and where we will have to correct the course. The key is to always move and not stay in one place. Sometimes if your head is only focused in the race it becomes much harder.
They say that when you runs long distances it is important to forget that you are running because otherwise it becomes monotonous and repetitive which makes it more difficult. The same thing happens as an entrepreneur, sometimes it is not convenient to stay fixed on how to solve all the problems that arise when one faces a project. You need to overcome obstacles in order to move forward and avoid them to become the anchor that slows you down and makes you lose sight of the goal you have set.
2.- Learn to listen to your body
Both when you work and when you run, you have to be alert to what your body asks of you. Not to the whims of the unconscious, but to what you really need. Let’s not forget that it is not about giving the body what it wants, it is about giving it what it needs. If we neglect it, later it will be difficult to get another one. Stopping, resting, analyzing and moving forward again is a process that we have to repeat daily. Just as muscles need to relax, our brains also need rest to function better.
3.- Enjoy the small achievements
Not everything is running a marathon, not everything is finishing a big project. Enjoying the little achievements helps you savor the big ones much more. I feel that something that allowed me to run that half marathon in less than 4 months of training was being able to enjoy small advances. From running 100 meters more than the day before or finishing a couple of seconds faster a specific distance. At The App Master I really enjoy the time we share with the team, listening to how a solution was found when faced with a problem and seeing how teamwork relationships are being forged and strengthened.
4.- He who does not risk, does not win
It is important to get out of your comfort zone because taking risks is what helps us to improve ourselves. There is much more that is lost by not risking than by doing so. Nothing is learned without traveling new paths. At some point in our lives we have taken personal risks that led us to where we are today, why should it be any different in the field of sports or entrepreneurship? With this I am not implying that you have to risk everything because it can become unhealthy. However measured risks are the best way to evolve and self-improve. Stretch a race a few more meters, face a project that will require learning new skills, bring in external help when faced with your own limitations.
5.- It is necessary to overcome your limits little by little
If you managed to reach a goal today, it is important to set another in a short term that is not so far from the first. Do not forget that to get to the first you had to make an effort and that the fact that you have arrived once does not mean that you will always arrive. It only means that you already discovered that you had the ability to do so.
A mistake that many times we make is to set medium and long-term goals that are very difficult to achieve. I think it is important to set a goal that you want to reach in the long term then put together a retro-calendar. Have smaller goals that you can achieve week after week so that they can get you closer to that original goal. Motivation is essential both when you run and when you embark on a project. As an entrepreneur or runner, you won’t have a boss to guide you or tell you what to do so decisions and the paths are yours to make and it is very important to stay motivated.
6.- Never underestimate the value of a good company
Nobody is alone. Successful organizations are not built by one person. There may be leaders and references, but strength is often in numbers. Running or undertaking a project with good company is always much easier than doing it by yourself. Having people who challenge you by your side helps you to always look for self-improvement that is very necessary to achieve different results. The shared gratification of a team will always be better. Learn how different members accompany each other in the face of obstacles, how they motivate, encourage and teach each other.
As a final reflection, there is a phrase that I heard recently that says “Many can talk the walk but a few can walk the talk”. I would dare to say that if we would change it to “run the talk” the result will not necessarily come sooner, but the satisfaction will always greater… ..or not?